There’s been a lot of bluster about Labour and the Mana party going head-to-head in Te Tai Tokerau, and whether Labour ‘understands MMP’ and what it all means for collaboration on the left. But there hasn’t been much mention of the other seat Mana will be hoping to win: Te Ururoa Flavell’s seat of Waiariki.
Mana candidate Annette Sykes came pretty close to winning this seat back in 2011. This time around she’ll have vastly more resources. If she does win it doesn’t matter if Harawira holds his seat: Internet/Mana can still coat-tail in no matter which seat it holds. And Labour doesn’t have to do a deal here, or have a cup of tea: they’re the third-place candidate. All they have to do is not try to hard or, to put it in political terms ‘maximise the party vote’.
So Labour’s strategy here might be pretty smart. Labour gets to take a strong public stand against Hone Harawira who is the least popular politician in the country, and his deal with Dotcom which is – probably – also very unpopular (we haven’t seen any polling on it yet but presumably Labour has). They also get to take a stand against coat-tailing by promising to scrap the provision if they’re in government. If Sykes wins Waiariki then the Maori Party loses a seat (and a co-leader) which means National loses a seat. A potential Labour coalition would gain one possible seat AND any additional Internet/Mana seats that can coat-tail in. (There’s also a totally plausible post-election environment in which Harawira and Sykes both win their seats using the Internet Party’s resources but the IMP doesn’t win enough party votes to secure a third MP, so Harre and Dotcom get nothing.)